LIVE UPDATES | Detective describes gruesome discovery of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan on day 2 of Daybell murder case - East Idaho News

LIVE UPDATES | Detective describes gruesome discovery of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan on day 2 of Daybell murder case

  Published at  | Updated at


Excuse the typos – these are live updates from the courtroom


2:22 p.m. Boyce says jury selection went quicker than anticipated so the next witness is not here. We are dismissing for the day and no court tomorrow. Court will resume Monday at 8:30 a.m. Join me tonight at 6:30 p.m. MDT for “Courtroom Insider.”

Courtroom Insider Promo

2:20 p.m. The attorneys are at their table and Boyce is back on the bench. The judge wants to clarify exhibits that were admitted today.

2:15 p.m. A few jurors and people in the gallery (including yours truly) stand to stretch their legs. These wood benches are hard! Daybell sits motionless at the defense table.

2:13 p.m. Wood asks for a sidebar. All the attorneys leave the courtroom.

2:12 p.m. Lt. Hermosillo is released from the stand. He remains under subpoena to be recalled and Boyce tells him he can not review any testimony of the trial.

2:11 p.m. Prior asks how long Chad’s driveway is. Hermosillo says he can’t testify to that. Prior asks if it’s 50 yards. Hermosillo says maybe 20-30 yards. Prior has nothing further.

2:10 p.m. Prior asks about metadata and Alex Cox’s cell phone. Hermosillo says Alex’s phone was not on Chad’s property during the paintball shooting incident.

2:09 p.m. Prior asks about Hermosillo’s testifying about the whereabouts of Alex Cox on Chad Daybell’s property on Oct. 9. Prior asks if they looked at all of Alex’s phone records for the day. Hermosillo said they were more interested in the timeframe of when the incident happened.

2:08 p.m. Wood has no further questions. Prior wants to follow up and Boyce says he will allow a limited re-cross.

2:07 p.m. Wood asks Hermosillo what was the first thing he asked Chad when they met the first time. Hermosillo says he asked when was the last time he saw JJ Vallow. Chad responded with October. Wood asks about Hermosillo asking Chad for Lori’s cell phone number. Chad responded that he didn’t know Lori’s cell.

2:05 p.m. Hermosillo says based on all the events of not finding the kids, not being able to get a hold of anyone, the timeline of the deaths and marriage of Chad and Lori – all of it played into it. Hermosillo says Alex Cox died in December 2019. Wood asks if any time after Alex died, did Chad call Rexburg police to report there were missing kids? Hermosillo says no.

2:04 p.m. Wood asks if the fact Tammy died 10 days after the incident had any bearing on whether or not he believes it was a paintball gun. Hermosillo says yes. Wood asks if the fact Chad got married 17 days after Tammy died had a bearing on his believe it was a paintball gun. Hermosillo says yes.

2:02 p.m. Hermosillo says the morning of the shooting Alex was driving up and down the road on Daybell’s property and also on the property. On Oct. 10, he Googled “how make your AR-15 function in cold weather.” Hermosillo says that is why they believe it wasn’t just a paintball gun. “We believe Alex Cox was there to shoot Tammy Daybell.”

2:01 p.m. Hermosillo asks to look at his notes. He is allowed to look at them but he can’t testify from them.

1:59 p.m. Wood asks about the initial scope of the investigation when Hermosillo began investigating. It was about the Jeep. Wood shows the timeline on the screen and asks about the paintball incident. Wood asks Hermosillo why he doesn’t believe it was a paintball gun. Hermosillo says through their investigation, they learned Alex Cox was on Chad Daybell’s property the morning Tammy Daybell was shot at. He says the night Tammy Daybell was shot, it was a colder evening and Alex Googled “how to make an AR function in cold weather.”

1:58 p.m. Wood will now re-direct. He asks Hermosillo who Chad Daybell was with when Hermosillo first met Chad. Alex Cox. Wood asks the detective if Chad looked afraid of Alex Cox. Hermosillo says no.

1:56 p.m. Prior asks about JJ being found in red pajamas and Sketchers socks. Prior asks if JJ was wearing red pajamas when he was carried upstairs by Alex Cox. Hermosillo does not know. Prior says he will save the rest of his questions when Hermosillo is recalled. Prior is done. Wood will now re-direct.

1:54 p.m. Hermosillo says he doesn’t know exactly how long the interview was and how long the recording is. Wood objects and says this is beyond the scope. Boyce says we are way beyond the scope of direct examination. Prior says this will be revisited at another time when Hermosillo is called back to the stand.

1:51 p.m. Prior brings up phone calls Hermosillo had with Melanie Gibb. He asks Hermosillo interviewing David Warwick and Melanie Gibb in Provo, Utah. Hermosillo, a lieutenant and Rob Wood went down for the interview. Prior asks if the conversation was recorded. Hermosillo says the very beginning wasn’t – the recorder malfunctioned – but the majority of the interview malfunctioned. Prior says the recording was around 22 minutes. Hermosillo says that doesn’t sound right – they were there for about an hour.

1:50 p.m. Prior asks who was in the apartment of Sept. 23, 2019. Hermosillo says Warwick, Gibb and Lori Vallow were there. Hermosillo says within two hours, JJ was buried on Chad Daybell’s property.

1:47 p.m. Now Prior jumps to JJ Vallow and his last known proof of life. He mentions Tylee Ryan’s last known proof of life. He says there was a 16 day gap between the two deaths. Prior asks about JJ being at Lori’s home on Sept. 22. Lori, JJ, Melanie Gibb and David Warwick were there. Lori, Melanie and David were recording a religious podcast. Prior says the allegation is JJ was acting up and Alex took JJ into a separate apartment.

1:46 p.m. Prior switching gears again. He confirms with Hermosillo that he received a subpoena from his office. Hermosillo says yes. Prior asks if he’s willing to come back and testify if he needs him again. Hermosillo says yes.

1:44 p.m. Hermosillo says Daybell went to Hawaii after the California trip. Prior asks Hermosillo how they found out Chad was in Hawaii. Hermosillo says it was through tips and cell phone data. Prior asks if they looked at plane records. Hermosillo explains each officer was tasked with different things. Hermosillo says he assumed that officer looked through plane records and finances.

1:43 p.m. Prior asking if Hermosillo gained any information that Daybell was going on a vacation at the end of November. Hermosillo says they later learned Daybell was in California.

1:41 p.m. The parties return from their sidebar. The question is struck and the topic is not allowed. Prior now asking about the initial welfare check for JJ in November 2019 at Lori’s apartment. Hermosillo says every time they called Chad, it went straight to voicemail. Prior asks if Hermosillo went through Daybell’s phone records. He says he personally did not.

1:37 p.m. Prior asks Hermosillo if he’s aware that Alex Cox went after Joseph Ryan in 2007. Wood objects and Boyce sustains – says it’s beyond the scope. Prior asks for a sidebar.

1:35 p.m. Prior now asks Hermosillo who is charged in the death of Charles Vallow. Hermosillo says Lori Vallow. Prior asks if he’s aware Chad Daybell is not charged in Maricopa County. Hermosillo says he is. Prior asks Hermosillo if he’s aware Chad Daybell is not charged in connection to the Brandon B. shooting. Hermosillo says he is.

1:33 p.m. Prior is moving from one thing to another. He’s now asking Hermosillo if he did a check on all the guns and knives found in Alex’s garage. Hermosillo says he did not and isn’t sure how to do a search on knives. Prior says, “I don’t either. I don’t either.”

1:31 p.m. Prior shows another exhibit that shows Alex Googled “sharpening swords” three days after Tammy Daybell died. On Oct. 23, he Googled, “15 Facts About ‘Silence of the Lambs’ You Didn’t Know.” Prior asks Hermosillo if he recalled that search. Hermosillo does not.

1:30 p.m. Prior asks Hermosillo about Alex having a habit of Googling a lot of things. Hermosillo says he can’t answer that. Prior asks about Alex Googling the Hannibal Lecter “thing.” Hermosillo says he is not aware of that. Boyce reminds Prior to stay by the microphone.

1:28 p.m. Prior displays an exhibit showing the date Alex Googled the terms. It was Oct. 12, 2019 – three days after the paintball incident. Prior asks if this was the only time a Google search was done. Hermosillo says on the evening of Oct. 9, 2019, Alex Googled “how to make an AR-15 function in cold weather.”

1:26 p.m. Hermosillo can’t recall the date Alex Googled the terms. Prior says he will “take the liberty and help you out a little bit.”

1:25 p.m. Prior asking about Alex Googling what type of caliber was needed to shoot at a Dodge Dakota. Prior says we don’t know who Alex’s target was but it was likely someone who owned the vehicle. Hermosillo says correct.

1:22 p.m. Prior says we don’t know who was driving the Dodge Dakota. Hermosillo says that’s correct. Prior jumps back to June 9 and asks about Daybell leaving the scene of his house at a high rate of speed. Hermosillo says Daybell didn’t take off in the Dodge Dakota – it was another vehicle.

1:21 p.m. Prior says he’s going to take his time. “The judge has admonished me enough at this point, I think I got the point. We’re going to go a little slower at this point,” he says.

1:19 p.m. Boyce is on the bench. The jurors are being brought in.

1:12 p.m. The prosecutors are at their table and Prior is at his. Chad Daybell is smiling as he and Prior chat.

1:11 p.m. Back in the courtroom. John Prior will continue to cross examine Det. Hermosillo. Prior talks very fast so I will try to keep up. Even when Wood lodged objections, Prior plowed through and Boyce had to tell him a few times to wait on the ruling.

12:10 p.m. We are having an hour lunch break. Will be back around 1:10 p.m.

12:07 p.m. Prior asking Hermosillo about the Dodge Dakota Tammy got out of. Prior says if Chad Daybell had been driving the vehicle, would Alex Cox had been trying to shoot Chad? Hermosillo says Tammy Daybell called 911 – Chad didn’t.

12:05 p.m. Prior asks if Hermosillo looked at the search engine for Tammy Daybell’s account. Hermosillo says he did not. Prior asks if he spoke with “Officer K” (I believe he means Kaaiakamanu – Prior can’t pronounce his name) about the search history. He then moves on to where Alex Cox was at the time of the shooting.

12:03 p.m. Prior refers to the Facebook post as an email. Wood objects – says it’s not an email. Boyce asks Prior to clarify. Prior says it’s a text message that went to members of the Salem Third Ward. Wood objects – saying it’s not a text message. Boyce overrules the objection.

12 noon Prior asks if Hermosillo has seen all the evidence in relation to Tammy Daybell’s death. Hermosillo says yes. Prior shows, on the screen, the Facebook post Tammy wrote about the paintball incident in her driveway. You can see it here.

RELATED | Tammy Daybell reported a masked man shot at her with a paintball gun 10 days before her ‘suspicious’ death

11:57 a.m. Hermosillo explains he had to ask Chad twice to get Lori’s phone number. Prior asks Hermosillo about the paintball gun incident. Prior asks Hermosillo if he’s had a chance to look at all the evidence in this case. Hermosillo says he has. Prior fiddling with his computer to get exhibits shown.

11:54 a.m. Prior asking Hermosillo about his request to get Lori’s phone number from Alex and Chad. Prior asks if ever made threats. Wood objects. Prior launches another question. Boyce tells him to hold on. “Mr. Prior, when there is an objection I’m going to rule on it. Objection sustained.” Prior continues his questions.

11:52 a.m. Prior asks about the day Hermosillo and his colleagues went to Lori Vallow’s apartment. Prior asks why they went. Hermosillo says it was for a welfare check. The detectives went out at different times. Prior says none of them decided to bring a video camera or recorder. “Nobody took out their phone and made a video or audio recording of the discussion of Mr. Daybell or Mr. Cox, right?” Hermosillo says that’s correct.

11:50 a.m. Prior pivots and asks about body cameras. Hermosillo says all the detectives share a body camera. Prior asks what the policy is for recording interviews. Hermosillo says interviews are recorded at the police station.

11:46 a.m. Hermosillo confirms his role is to put together their investigation and hand the case over to the prosecutor. Prior asks about prosecutors showing up at investigations and Hermosillo says that has happened before. Hermosillo says it’s important for prosecutors have all the information.

11:45 a.m. Prior asks Hermosillo if he’s supposed to be remain neutral during an investigation. He says yes. “You’re supposed to look at all the evidence,” Prior says. He asks Hermosillo what they do with the evidence. Hermosillo says they follow the evidence and put a case together.

11:43 a.m. Prior asks Hermosillo how he should be referred to – officer or lieutenant. Hermosillo says lieutenant. Prior asks Hermosillo about a number of witnesses he has interviewed including Melanie Gibb and David Warwick.

11:41 a.m. The second half of the timeline shows the dates the bodies were recovered, taken to coroner, etc. Wood finishes his questions. John Prior will now conduct cross-examination on Hermosillo.

11:37 a.m. Jurors are brought back into the courtroom. Hermosillo reads from the timeline. It begins in July 2019 with the death of Charles Vallow. Sept. 2-3, 2019 – Lori, Alex and the kids move to Rexburg. Last known proof of life for Tylee is Sept. 8, 2019. Last known proof of life for JJ is Sept. 22, 2019. Attempted homicide of Brandon B. is Oct. 2, 2019. Attempted shooting of Tammy Daybell is Oct. 9, 2019. Death of Tammy is Oct. 19, 2019.

11:35 a.m. Prior is no longer objecting to the exhibit so it will be admitted. Boyce will also read instructions to the jury about 404(b).

11:34 a.m. The parties are discussing some objections and rulings filed in the case last year regarding 404(b) arguments. This would be in relation to the death of Charles Vallow and the shooting of Brandon Boudreaux. You can read more about the rules of evidence here.

11:28 a.m. Boyce is back on the bench. He had to go back and review some rulings in the case from some time ago. He is now going to rule on an exhibit outside of the presence of the jury.

11 a.m. Chad has a laptop and is reading, scrolling. He was given a laptop in the Fremont County Jail to review evidence in preparation for trial. I’m told there was no internet access.

10:57 a.m. Everyone is back. There is an evidentiary issue that needs to be resolved. The jury is being dismissed and Boyce is going into his chambers to do some legal research.

10:51 a.m. Hermosillo also prepared a timeline on the case. Wood asks to admit it. Boyce asks for a sidebar. All the attorneys leave the courtroom with the judge.

10:49 a.m. Wood moves to admit an exhibit showing key figures in the case. It shows Lori, Charles, Alex, Tylee, JJ, Chad, Tammy and Melani Pawlowski.

10:46 a.m. Hermosillo explains that on Oct. 9, 2019, Tammy Daybell believed she was shot at in her driveway. She initially reported it was possibly a paintball gun.

10:45 a.m. Wood asks about the Jeep that law enforcement in Arizona were looking for. He said the Jeep was used in the attempted homicide of Brandon Boudreaux, the former nephew-in-law of Lori Vallow.

10:43 a.m. Wood asks Hermosillo if he is familiar with Charles Vallow. Hermosillo says yes. He was shot by Alex Cox, Lori’s brother, on July 11, 2019.

10:41 a.m. Hermosillo says they became aware of the Fremont County investigation and it was important because the suspects in that case were the same suspects in the missing kid case. “At that point we were still looking for two small children so it was imperative to us that we shared information and gathered information from neighboring counties and anybody that was involved in this case.”

10:39 a.m. Hermosillo says as Rexburg police were investigating JJ and Tylee, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the death of Tammy Daybell. Rexburg and Fremont worked together.

10:38 a.m. Hermosillo and Ball went back to the Ada County Coroner’s Office on June 12. They picked up some evidence and took it to the state lab in Meridian. The items were checked into the lab.

10:36 a.m. Warren opened the body bag and said there was nothing he could do with the remains – he could not conduct an autopsy.

10:34 a.m. The jury has been seated. Wood continues to question Hermosillo about JJ’s autopsy. When the autopsy was concluded, Dr. Warren and his team removed JJ from the autopsy table. They brought out a second black body bag. It was Tylee’s remains.

10:32 a.m. Boyce is on the bench. Jurors are being brought in.

10:22 a.m. We are back in the courtroom. Several spectators noticed Chad Daybell shaking his when the graphic photos were shown before the break. One lady, who was watching Chad closely, told me it looked like he had never seen the images before.

9:59 a.m. Boyce asks for a brief sidebar with counsel. He says we will now take a morning recess. We will be back around 10:30.

9:57 a.m. Hermosillo describes more graphic photos that show JJ’s body, face wrapped in duct tape.

9:56 a.m. The next photo shows JJ on the table soaked in body decomposition, Hermosillo says. The next picture

9:55 a.m. Hermosillo describes the first image. It shows duct tape wrapped around JJ’s face. “The level of duct tape on his arms is what really caught my attention.” JJ had a white and blue child’s blanket wrapped around him. Several jurors looking at their screens, others taking notes.

9:52 a.m. Wood asks to admit more photos. Hermosillo says they show JJ Vallow lying on the table after the autopsy team cut open the black plastic bag. “All of these are graphic in nature. They will not be published or shown on the court live feed or to the public in the courtroom,” Boyce says. Jurors will see the images.

9:50 a.m. Once they removed the duct tape and the bag, Hermosillo realized it was JJ based on photos he had seen. JJ’s clothing was removed and Dr. Warren pointed out some bruises on his arms, ankles and chest. There were scratch marks on the left side of his neck just under the duct tape. “At that point, Dr. Warren and his team performed the autopsy.”

9:48 a.m. Hermosillo says the skin appeared to be blueish-green, black, yellow. Dr. Warren then cut the white plastic bag that was around JJ’s head with duct tape. It showed duct tape covering JJ’s mouth and there were several layers of duct tape from his arms. JJ’s wrists were also bound with duct tape.

9:46 a.m. The first body bag was brought out. The autopsy team opened it and revealed the black plastic wrapped body. The doctor cut down the plastic. JJ was wearing red pajama pants and shirts. His arms were folded across his body and there was duct tape from elbow to elbow. His ankles were bound with duct tape. He was wearing his pull-up diaper. He had black Sketchers socks on.

9:44 a.m. The autopsy took place June 11. Hermosillo says they had a debrief at the coroner’s office. They then went to the room where the autopsies were performed, signed in and put on white booties. The detectives then stood back against the wall while the autopsy took place.

9:41 a.m. Hermosillo says they followed Coroner Brenda Dye to the morgue. The morgue was secured and detectives decided to take the remains of JJ and Tylee to the Ada County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy. The remains were dropped off around 8-9 p.m. on June 10 at the Ada County Coroner’s Office.

9:40 a.m. Wood shows Hermosillo the next picture. He says “there are parts of Tylee when we tried to lift it out of the ground. There are pieces of a skull, charred bone and burned rotting flesh attached to the bone,” Hermosillo says.

9:39 a.m. Hermosillo describes the next photo which shows some tarps and hand tools that were used on the scene. The photo was taken “after we got that mass out of the wet soil.”

9:38 a.m. Attorneys are back. Wood asks Hermosillo to describe the next photo. It shows part of a human skull next to the green bucket. “There were teeth there in the dirt as well.”

9:37 a.m. Larry Woodcock is in the courtroom today but Kay Woodcock is not. She did not attend court during Lori Vallow’s trial last year on the days these photos were presented.

9:35 a.m. The next photo shows burned flesh inside the bucket, Hermosillo says. Prior asks for a sidebar. They leave the courtroom and go into chambers.

9:34 a.m. Hermosillo describes the next picture. It is burned flesh still attached to some bone laid out on a blue tarp. It shows part of the hip bone that still has burned flesh attached to it. “Fatty, burned tissue,” Hermosillo says. The jurors look at their screen. Chad looks at Hermosillo and the screen in front of him.

9:32 a.m. Hermosillo describes the first photo. It shows the change in color of soil and charred dry bone. “All the little pieces next to it are pieces of burnt flesh, tissue, organs we later determined that were in the top of inside the bucket.”

9:31 a.m. Wood says at this point, it’s appropriate to turn off public access. Boyce agrees.

9:30 a.m. We see the first photo and it is of the pet cemetery. There are markers by the fire pit and some tarps on the ground.

9:26 a.m. We are about to get into graphic evidence. Boyce says it will not be shown to the public in the courtroom or on the livestream but the jurors will see it. These are exhibits Wood asks to admit.

9:23 a.m. Tylee’s remains were put on a blue tarp. Hermosillo says the smell was horrendous. They were collected and put into a body bag. Tylee’s remains were taken to the morgue and Hermosillo returned back to Chad’s house.

9:20 a.m. Hermosillo says they returned the next day and started to dig again with little tools “to find out exactly what we were going to take out of the ground.” The team took turns digging because the smell was so bad. The green object started to take a “roundish shape” as they methodically removed dirt. “At that point we saw what appeared to be the shape of a green melted bucket that appeared to have the remains of what we assumed was Tylee charred and burned inside that bucket.”

9:19 a.m. Big light trucks were brought in and law enforcement secured the scene for the night. The next day

9:17 a.m. Hermosillo says as they dug deeper, they found bone fragments and “globs of burnt flesh starting to protrude through the dirt.” The smell was awful. Everyone had a different task. As they dug deeper, they found something plastic and green. The ERT leader decided the crew was done for the day.

9:15 a.m. Hermosillo says the Evidence Recovery Team was removing soil near the fire pit. They used heavy equipment and then smaller hand tools to sift through the dirt. Hermosillo says they could only work for a few minutes because the smell was so bad.

9:13 a.m. The body was taken to Madison Memorial Hospital. When the detectives returned to Chad’s house, “we assisted in a second burial site,” Hermosillo says. They went to the pet cemetery. “We knew from talking to family members that the pet cemetery had a little black dog statue next to a post.”

9:12 a.m. Once the body was taken from the ground, Hermosillo assisted the coroner in putting JJ in a body bag. The body was put into the coroner’s car and it was driven to the morgue. Hermosillo and Lt. Ball followed the vehicle to the morgue. Once JJ was placed in the morgue, the detectives went back to Chad’s house.

9:09 a.m. The next image shows a small body wrapped in black plastic and duct tape, Hermosillo says. The next exhibit shows the moist soil after JJ was lifted from the ground. “This is body composition. The body had begun to break down,” the detective says.

9:07 a.m. Attorneys are back. A new photo is displayed and we see a tight-wrapped black plastic item that had been buried under some dirt. Hermosillo says it was not buried too deep. The next exhibit shows a white piece of plastic and there is a little slit in the plastic. There is some brown human hair through the slit of the plastic.

9:06 a.m. Wood asks for a sidebar. All the attorneys go with Boyce into his chambers.

9:01 a.m. The next photo shows the white rocks at the burial site. The next photo shows the wood paneling under the white rocks. The next image shows wet soil found underneath the wood panels. Hermosillo says once the paneling was removed, the odor became a lot stronger.

8:59 a.m. The next image is a close up showing a grassy area above where JJ was buried. The next image shows a thin layer of dirt and you can kind of see one of the white rocks. Wood asks about the smell. Hermosillo says as soon as they removed the top soil, he smelled a decomposing body.

8:56 a.m. The next photo shows the fire pit on Daybell’s property. Hermosillo says there was burned limbs and other debris in the area. The next picture shows the tree on the property and the pond area.

8:54 a.m. The first photo is displayed on the screen. It shows the front of Chad’s house and there is a vehicle parked in the driveway. Hermosillo points where he was standing and points where Chad was looking when he was on the phone in the car.

8:49 a.m. Wood asks to admit several exhibits. Hermosillo reviews them. They are photos showing Daybell’s property and the west side of his house.

8:46 a.m. Wood picks up asking Hermosillo about where JJ’s body was located. He uses a laser pointer to show the area of the pond.

8:42 a.m. Jurors are in their seats. Hermosillo takes the stand.

8:39 a.m. Attorneys are back at their tables. Boyce is back on the bench and asks for jurors to be brought in.

8:38 a.m. Not as many people in the courtroom today. Three rows on one side of the room are empty.

8:34 a.m. You can get caught up on everything that happened yesterday – including Hermosillo’s testimony so far – here.

8:33 a.m. Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood is expected to continue questioning Hermosillo. Side note: Today is Wood’s birthday.

8:31 a.m. Back in the courtroom. Rexburg Det. Ray Hermosillo will be back on the stand this morning. Chad Daybell is sitting at the defense table in a dress shirt and red tie. Attorneys are meeting with Boyce in chambers.